It’s a pretty long drive to the Southern Uplands from Nottingham but not long enough to write off a full day. I could not get into the cottage in wanlockhead until after 4.00pm, so before setting off I searched for a decent leg stretcher that would only take a couple of hours or so. A play around on Anquet maps at home revealed an isolated 711 metre summit which the contours showed had a ‘proper’ hill shape to it. Just off of the M74 at junction 13 it was very accessible too, a bit of research showed that it is a popular ascent for those living in South Lanarkshire. There is a very well used, easily graded path that ascends from the north where there is a car park. I am not that fond of busy popular ascents so thought that I would have a bash at ascending from the south starting at the small village of Wiston.
4.7 miles with 480 metres ascent
I found a small car park outside of the village hall and set off up the road towards Wiston Lodge. The lodge appears to be some sort of outdoor / activity centre with a path passing round the back of the main building. This continues past a field with wooden cabins and a pretty dilapidated cottage to a stile at the edge of the woods. Crossing this I found myself crossing a couple of large soggy fields with the imposing bulk of Pap Craig in front of me. From my vantage point I could not see any hint of a path on the upper slopes and began to wonder if the ascent may just end up being a heather bashing exercise. Passing the last field I entered rougher pasture and a path heading to the right of Pap Craig. The path ahead was always out of sight as I started the steep ascent, finally zig zagging steeply to the top of Pap Craig. The view to the south was extensive looking over the Clyde valley to the Culter hills. Every now and then I could see a long Virgin train silently snake its way across the landscape.
The map shows a path contouring across the southern slopes of Tinto but there was no evidence of this on the steep scree slope. I headed towards the fence approaching the summit from the south east instead and found a path in between the two parallel fences. By now the wind was really beginning to show its strength as I left the shelter of the lower slopes and gained the final ridge. All of a sudden the huge summit cairn came into view pretty much at the same time that it clouded over and started to spit with rain. The wind at the top made it a struggle to climb to the plinth which used to house a view finder. Under the mantle of grey I could just make out the flat patchwork of fields to the north and the clear path heading in that direction.
The trig point itself was dwarfed by the size of the cairn which is probably the reason why the OS give two spot heights for this hill.
The weather meant that I did not hang around and quickly turned and headed the way I had come. It was a quick descent back to where I had parked the van.
On a clear day I would imagine that the views are pretty extensive due to Tinto being isolated from other hills and with a flat landscape to the north. On a long drive to the Highlands I can definitely recommend stopping off for a couple of hours to stretch your legs and to drink in the scenery.